By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 28 2016 02:00PM
In 1913, Sybil G. Brinton, the thirty-eight-year-old daughter of a wealthy carpet manufacturer from Worcestershire, England, published Old Friends and New Fancies, the first Jane Austen sequel. Brinton’s book blithely mingles characters from all six Austen novels, imagining romantic sparks flying between Mr. Darcy’s shy little sister, Georgiana, and Fanny Price’s dashing naval brother, William. Pemberley, Mansfield, Longbourn – hey, it’s all Jane Austen!
A similar spirit animates the Austen-inspired TV/web series Austentatious, a viewing of which was my first self-imposed assignment in the Austen Catch-Up Project, wherein I spend 2016 plugging a few of the gaping holes in my Janeite education. Austentatious concerns the adventures of modern-day twenty-something Elinor Dashwood, her sister Marianne, and their friends Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet, along with assorted male colleagues, pals and love interests.
For us edgier Janeites, Austentatious has an unpromising pedigree: it’s distributed by SunWorld Pictures, which calls itself “the studio for wholesome entertainment.” These are the folks who brought us the cringe-inducing, unintentionally hilarious Austen update Scents and Sensibility, whose credit list overlaps significantly with that of Austentatious.
Austentatious’ first season – ten episodes of twenty-two-minute each – was released on DVD last year and remains available online through the Dove Channel, a streaming service dedicated to “family-approved” and “faith-friendly” video offerings. (A second season may appear, depending on the success of Season One.)